Tag Archives: featured

Intel’s Wonder Woman drone light show powered by all-female crew

Three hundred drones flying through Los Angeles, Calif. in a “Wonder Woman”-inspired light show has brought all new meaning to the concept of ‘girl power.’

An all-female operations team at Intel, helmed by general manager Natalie Cheung, put together the Wonder Woman drone light show using the company’s Shooting Star drones for a Warner Bros. event at Dodger Stadium.

Intel’s drones have been serving as nighttime entertainment at events such as Coachella, the Super Bowl and Walt Disney WorldContinue reading Intel’s Wonder Woman drone light show powered by all-female crew

7 ways drones are helping Hurricane Irma, Harvey recovery experts

In the days after Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Aviation Administration issued 137 airspace authorizations for drone-related recover efforts in the Houston area. Not long after, the FAA issued 132 airspace authorizations in the Florida area shortly after Hurricane Irma, the FAA announced this week.

Approvals were needed to fly drones during the hurricane because the area was otherwise covered by a Temporary Flight Restriction.

And many of those approvals were processed within hours, according to The Wall Street Journal, an exceptionally fast turnaround for the industry, which is accustomed to waiting weeks or even months to get drone flights approved.

Hundreds of drones are being used for hurricane recovery efforts, whether for surveys, helping with insurance claims, restoring power and more.

“Essentially, every drone that flew meant that a traditional aircraft was not putting an additional strain on an already fragile system,”  FAA Administrator Michael Huerta  said during a speech at Interdrone. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the hurricane response will be looked back upon as a landmark in the evolution of drone usage in this country.”

Here were some of the ways drones were used in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma:

Search and rescue:  In Houston, the team from Texas A&M University’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue flew 119 drone flights in eight days between Aug. 25 and Sept. 4. The team used drones ranging from DJI Phantom 3 drones and the Parrot Disco to high-end inspection drones such as those by PrecisionHawk. Not only did the team spot people in need, they also monitored levees and measured damage.

Media coverage:  Media outlets such as ABC and CNN aired drone footage to show viewers what the affected areas looked like before and after the storm.

Surveying: The National Guard used drones to perform aerial surveys, allowing them to get an aerial view of the disaster and determine which areas to prioritize for assistance.

Railroads: Eight of the approvals related to Harvey were to a Texas railroad company, which used drones to survey damage along a major rail line.

Mapping: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection used drones to map areas in Key West, Miami and Jacksonville, allowing them to inspect infrastructure such as power plants for The Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Insurance: Airbus Aerial is using drones to help insurance companies handle insurance claims. Airbus Aerial technology allows insurers access to its archives of data to see what a given area looked like before a storm, then task high resolution satellites in the areas of most importance to them. The drones are able to gather data, and paired with manned aircraft and satellite data can give an image of sites before and after the hurricane. According to a statement released by Airbus Aerial, “this helps insurance companies to prioritize the hardest hit areas and efficiently deploy their on-site adjusters to the places they are needed most. ”

Power restoration: The Jacksonville Electric Authority in Florida used drones in its work to restore power after severe outages that affected 6 million residents. Drones were able to do damage assessments within 24 hours of the storm.

Florida Power and Light, which serves 4.4 million customers, also used drones to survey the area, helping them restore electricity. The company has 49 drone teams, and many were operating within an hour of the storm subsididing.



Parrot Mambo FPV positions Parrot as first major manufacturer in drone racing

Parrot this week became the first major drone manufacturer to capitalize on the drone racing craze, announcing on Thursday the Parrot Mambo FPV.

The new, $179.99 drone is actually a modification of Parrot’s  $109.99 Mambo toy drone. With Thursday’s new FPV product launch, Parrot announced that it now sells the regular Mambo drone in a new FPV kit, which also gets you a miniature HD camera for live streaming, FPV (first-person view) glasses to see what the drone’s camera sees , a controller and a new battery.

The new kit includes a miniature HD camera which livestreams to the pilot’s smartphone. An optional microSD card (sold separately) can also be connected to record pictures and videos. The Parrot Cockpitglasses 2 serve as a mount for a smartphone (up to 6 inches in size), which can be inserted into the glasses to replicate the FPV experience. Pilots can use the Flypad controller, which operates much like regular RC transmitters via two joysticks. Continue reading Parrot Mambo FPV positions Parrot as first major manufacturer in drone racing

The best camera drones with a zoom lens for home inspections

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about what type of drone to purchase for home inspections (the main requirement is a zoomed lens…no wide aerial video necessary). If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I’m starting a home inspection business. I need to be able to take close/detailed pictures of different parts of a house roof, such as the chimney, pipes coming out of the roof, top ridge of the roof. What’s your opinion for a camera to provide detailed close-up pictures and a stable, slow drone? 

Looking for a drone to use for home inspections?

If you have the budget, DJI’s Zenmuse Z30 is arguably the most powerful zoom camera designed specifically for drones on the market. It has a 30x optical and 6x digital zoom, giving it a total magnification of up to 180x. The camera is being used for inspections of all sorts — cell towers, wind turbines and more. The Zenmuse Z30 is designed for DJI’s Matrice drones. But at just under $9,000 (plus you’ll have to buy the Matrice), it’s not cheap.

The camera is ready to go out of the box, and yes — the Matrice is an incredibly stable drone.

Related read: Need a zoom lens for your drone? This may be it

DJI also has a stellar lineup of lower cost zoom lenses for its drones.

My first pick on the more affordable side of things for a commercial-quality, zoom lens, would be the DJI Zenmuse X5S. Its focal length ranges from 9mm to 45 mm (equivalent to 18 mm-90 mm on a 35mm camera). The camera is compatible with the DJI Inspire 2 (sold separately), which is an incredible drone to fly. It’s stable, and can fly at a variety of speeds — including the slow and controlled speed you are looking for.

At a slightly lower cost, the Zenmuse Z3 gimbal and camera features an optical zoom with 3.5 optical zoom and 2x digital zoom. It can be mounted on the Inspire 1, the Matrice 100 or the Matrice 600. The nice thing about the Zenmuse Z3 is that it is compatiable with the lower cost Inspire 1, vs. the Inspire 2.

Related read: DJI now offers a zoom camera with Zenmuse Z3

However, DJI is not your only option. The Walkera Voyager 4 is also an incredible choice. It has a zoom lens that offers 16x magnification. In fact, it’s zoom is even more than the DJI Zenmuse Z3 camera system. The camera on the Zenmuse Z3 has a zoom range of 22 to 77 mm, while the Voyager 4 has a range of a whopping 10 to 1500mm.

It’s also going to be high quality video, offering a gimbal-stailized, 360-camera, which could be important for the inspections you need to do (it means you can turn the camera around to shoot behind you without needing to turn the drone!).

The market for inspections is growing. Goldman Sachs predicts an $100 billion market opportunity for drones between now and 2020, with the utilities sector generating a total addressable market of $93 million.

Keep in mind that in order to fly a drone commercially, you need to obtain a Part 107 license. Here’s an awesome study guide, here are some frequently asked questions, and here’s my video review of exactly what taking the test is like. I highly recommend studying with Drone Pilot Ground School. Use this link to get $50 off!

Starting a drone business? Here’s what kind of revenue you can expect.

Eclipse 2017: the best eclipse photos taken by a drone

A total solar eclipse crossed the United States on Monday, bringing people outside in full force to watch the historic event.

Also out in full force? The drones.

Many drone pilots put their drones in the skies to document the first total solar eclipse to cross the nation since 1918, which carved a “path of totality” from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.

Here were some of the best images taken by drone pilots: Continue reading Eclipse 2017: the best eclipse photos taken by a drone

Drone Girl profiles: European FPV star Lexie Janson on getting sponsors and racing internationally

24-year-old Lexie Janson is quickly becoming Europe’s FPV star. Originally from Gdynia, Poland, she’s traveling all over the continent, calling me from a trip to Ireland where she was preparing for Irish Drone Nationals. We discussed getting sponsorships, air traffic control and of course, drone racing. Read on!

Do you know an awesome drone girl I should profile? Contact me here.

Drone Girl: I was expecting to talk to you from Poland, but it turns out you’re in Ireland!

Lexie Janson: I’m in 3 countries in 3 weeks. I just got done meeting some guys who are my fans. They took me to some awesome spots to fly FPV.

DG: Jeez, you’re famous!

LJ: I don’t feel famous.

DG: Okay, so for people who don’t know you, tell us how you got into drones. Continue reading Drone Girl profiles: European FPV star Lexie Janson on getting sponsors and racing internationally

This $150 GoPro drone is one of the cheapest ways to get a camera in the air

Looking for a cheap way to get your GoPro in the air?

The $150 Force1 F100 GoPro RC Quadcopter Drone is an introductory drone for pilots who already own a GoPro.

It’s essentially a low-cost toy drone, but it has a mount for a GoPro.

The drone can also do 360 flips , and it has about 12 minutes of flight time and comes with an extra battery. force1 f100 gopro drone review

The drone does require some level of setup. Since the drone can interchange with your own camera, the drone has modular landing gear, which you’ll have to install if you opt to include a GoPro.

Of course, as with all things, you get what you pay for. The mount is not a 3-axis gimbal, so the video is not going to have that silky, smooth look that drones these days commonly produce. (Think all the way back to the days of the Phantom 1.) The drone itself is significantly less stable than more expensive camera drones. Continue reading This $150 GoPro drone is one of the cheapest ways to get a camera in the air